My name is Tracey Rose, I was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, and even though my heart belongs to the West Coast so far I am still here in the East.
Following a formal apprenticeship I have been a full-time working tattooer since 2000. I've been working at Lucky Soul Tattoo since 2001, and in 2011 after 10 years of working at the shop I then became part owner.
Tattooing is truly a special kind of art. The birth of tattooing is certainly rooted in the sacred, and as it grew and changed over the decades and traveled from continent to continent, the ritualistic aspect of tattooing has changed, but without sounding too hokey I feel that in many ways tattooing still sits in the sacred. I have such respect for the history of this craft and I hold such a humble heart for being able to do what I do everyday. People come to me to be permanently marked, trusting me with their skin, their ideas and their stories. You learn a lot about a person when you're sitting with them, sometimes for hours or months on end, and that is one of my favorite parts of this job. Many of my clients also call the time in the tattoo chair their 'therapy', because there is something very cathartic about the overall experience and often people are getting tattooed for very personal reasons, so it can be pretty heavy at times. I've definitely laughed and cried right along with my clients. The experience of getting tattooed can be such a deep and personal one, and other times it's just goofy and silly and fun, and I'm honored to be able to provide this permanent art and be a part of an experience that people will likely always remember.
There are many types of art and styles of tattooing that I like to do, and as much as I try to be an artist who customizes in one style, I just can't seem to find myself being anything other than a Jill-of-all-tattoos. When I first started tattooing it hadn't yet blown up like it has today, and we basically learned how to do everything and do it well. In this new world of tattooing with so many specialty artists it's hard for me to find the one or two things I'd like to focus on doing. I've spent almost 20 years perfecting the art of 'doing it all', and I very much still believe that tattooing is a trade, that we are providers of a service, and we should be able to provide for our clients in the best way possible. That also includes being a nice person - it is super important to have a good 'chair side' manner, as well as doing some kick ass tattoos. However with all that being said, I do love tattooing images of women, 'lady heads' as they are sometimes called, and I also really love tattooing Buddhist imagery (but that's a story for a bit further down in the bio).
The type of artwork off of the skin that I do these days usually centers around women. Sometimes traditional American tattoo inspired designs and other times inspired by the Art Nouveau ladies of Alphonse Mucha.
I have been focusing on a series I started this year, I call it the 'Cheeky Broads' series. The idea was born out of my frustration with the idea and notion of strong and assertive women being called 'a bitch'. The fact that we live in the type of patriarchal society that holds outspoken men in high regard, but outspoken women often don't receive the same praise. Truth be told, this series cracked me up. Initially I started with my first broad, 'This is my smile' with a straight faced girl looking very unimpressed, inspired in part by my own experiences and also that bullshit 'you'd be a lot prettier if you smiled' crap, and then the ideas just snowballed. I have had so many ideas I can barely keep up. I started this series as a way for me to get back into drawing for fun and not just for tattoos, and initially I did these drawings just for myself, but when I shared them with other folks they thought they were great, so I started an Instagram page (@cheekybroads) and also an Etsy store to see how it all goes. I'm hoping other people like them as much as I do.
As for the role motorcycling plays in my life, I have basically loved motorcycling since I was in elementary school. My very first ride was in first or second grade, on the back of my uncles bike, and I was immediately hooked. I knew I'd have a bike one day, it was always a goal for me, and in 2003 I got my motorcycle license. My first bike was a Honda magna that I bought for $250, and I still have that bike today, although it is currently getting chopped up. So far I have my mind set on getting a Iron 883, I love the look and feel of that bike, but I'm certainly not Harley specific and love old Honda's and pretty much anything with two wheels that isn't covered in chrome or that has too many bells and whistles. I love the motorcycle culture and lifestyle in general, and I wish that the East Coast had as much of a thriving culture as the West Coast. Something about California has always spoken to me, it's likely the sun and year round warm weather. Oh yea, and the tacos.
Recently I have fallen in love with motorcycle helmet art and am looking to focus on creating custom helmets for folks. In March of 2017 I was a part of the first motorcycle helmet art show here in Connecticut (The UpCycle Helmet Art Show) which was done using all vintage motorcycle helmets - and I am now hooked. I have so many ideas for helmets, it was hard to narrow down my idea for the Babes Ride Out artist series. I settled on a theme revolving around the idea of motorcycling as meditation, Two Wheels Move The Soul. One of the aspects of motorcycling that I always felt most strongly about is that stillness and clarity of focus that you naturally have while riding a motorcycle. It really is an experience of one pointed mindfulness, complete and total moment to moment awareness. In my not so distant past I was a meditation teacher and have studied Buddhism in one form or another since I was 18. My most formal training was done in L.A. with Noah Levine, of Dharma Punx and Against The Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, and after that training I led a meditation and Buddhist group here in New Haven for a few years. I also studied with Jill Satterfield of Vajra Yoga, one of the only Buddhist centered mindfulness in motion type of yoga classes and trainings out there. That stuff is a part of me no matter how busy and crazy life gets or how far I stray from it, and so when I was coming up with an idea for this helmet I kept coming back to that feeling that I would get while riding. That feeling of nothing else being there but you, the machine, and the road. No distraction, no mental stories, no stresses, just that moment to moment awareness. The constant sound of the wind in your ears. The fresh air filling your lungs. Looking only so far ahead of you and knowing of only the next turn. It's the easiest way to get a long mediation practice in, that's for sure!
I am so thankful to have been asked to be a part of this series it's been a lot of fun!